Good Neighborhoods: A Study of In-Town & Suburban Residential Environments

Good Neighborhoods: A Study of In-Town & Suburban Residential Environments

Good Neighborhoods: A Study of In-Town & Suburban Residential Environments

Good Neighborhoods: A Study of In-Town & Suburban Residential Environments

Synopsis

What makes a "good neighborhood"? Can one neighborhood be good for all people? Brower's study examines the variable image of the ideal residential area in contemporary and earlier writings, from utopian visions and popular media to historical records and the findings of social science research. Brower identifies four common "ideal" neighborhood types, each providing a distinct and specific residential experience that suits a particular way of life. He details the characteristics of each of these "good neighborhoods," and argues that their coexistence in a single urban environment is not only possible, but desirable; it creates a healthy variety of residential areas that, together, suit the needs and desires of different urban dwellers. This absorbing and timely study will be of interest to scholars and professionals in urban studies, urban design and planning, environmental studies, environment psychology, and sociology.

Excerpt

As a whole, the population of the United States is more comfortably housed now than ever before in history. Most of us live in houses that are more convenient, better equipped, and more suited to our own time; and most of us live outside the old city boundaries, in neighborhoods that are less dense, healthier, quieter, greener, and more widely accessible than those of yesterday. Those who create these neighborhoods-- developers, public policy makers, individual householders, residents' associations and, sometimes, professional planners and designers--aim for a higher standard of living than in the past. Their plans are guided, perhaps not always consciously, by shared images of the ultimate good neighborhood. This book is about these images.

This is not to say that present-day neighborhoods are without problems. Many of them suffer from crime, noise, traffic, poor schools, and inadequate services. This book does not, however, address these problems; not because they are unimportant (indeed, they can defeat any attempt to create a good neighborhood), but because I am interested here in what neighborhoods should be rather than what they should not. Crime, noise and traffic are not deliberately introduced to make a neighborhood bad, and removing them does not necessarily make it good. A good neighborhood is one that is as good as it can be, not simply one without serious defects. This normative approach sets the direction of inquiry.

Do we already plan neighborhoods that are as good as they can be, and is it just that our good intentions are confounded by the unexpected, the unplannable? For an answer we may look at recurrent articles in the press, in magazines, and in professional journals, whose authors (as we will discover later) denounce the shortcomings of neighborhood planning. It is . . .

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